If you’re thinking about it or definitely planning on renting a vacation property this summer, here are ten things you need to know:
- Read the fine print. Make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to in regards to security deposits, refunds, surcharges/fees, etc.
- Trash. Be clear about what to do with the trash. Is there a dumpster? Are you expected to carry it off? Is there trash pick up? If you’re staying a week or two and you are a family of four, then trash disposal should be a concern.
- Air conditioning. Is there central air conditioning or window units or nothing? Some rental properties only have fans so that is definitely something you want to consider if you’re going in the middle of summer.
- Amenities. What does the property have? Microwave? Coffee maker? Can opener? Spa? Pool? DVD player? Bikes? Games? Wi-Fi? TV with satellite or cable?
- Linens and towels. Are they provided or are you supposed to bring your own?
- The layout. Make sure the property is conducive to your needs. Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms? Are there stairs (Is this is a problem?) Is there good parking or is it street parking only?
- Pets. If you plan on bringing your cat or dogs, is that allowed? Is there a size/weight limit? Is a pet deposit required?
- Scrutinize the photos. Does the description of the property match up with the photos? Do the photos give you a good sense of the place? If there are only one or two or no photos then that should raise a red flag. There should be images of all the bedrooms, the exterior, the living room, kitchen, and patio/deck area.
- Location, location, location. Is it convenient and safe? Does it suit your needs?
- Compare. Don’t take the first acceptable listing. Do some comparison shopping to make sure you get the best possible property for you and your needs and your budget.
Like some of you, we have had good and bad experiences with accommodations. We have stayed at exceptional properties and a few that we’d just as soon forget, if only we could! My family once rented a cabin in South Dakota that was not at all what we had in mind. I pictured a cozy cabin in the mountains and it was not that. For one thing, the cabins were nowhere near the rest of the resort. None of the cabins were in walking distance of the resort’s pool, lodge, restaurant, etc. You had to move the car to do anything. We only had one car so that was a bit of a problem given that we were all doing different activities. Also, there was no air conditioning. There was one chair (!) and two lamps, which offered minimal lighting. It was so dimly lit that playing games or reading was nearly impossible. The description said it was two bedrooms but in reality, there was one bedroom and the front porch had been transformed into a “bedroom.” So no one could use the porch most of the time. Also, the bathroom was in the back bedroom so I was disturbed every time another family member had to use the bathroom. We were told there was trash pick up if you put your bags out by 10 a.m. However, no one came for the trash and some animals got into it and scattered it all over by the time we got home that night. We ended up having to carry off our trash every day, which was a bit of a drag. I could go on and on but you get the idea. I learned the hard way that cabins aren’t always cozy!
Bottom line: Use this checklist to make sure you know what you’re getting. If in doubt, don’t book it.